Fat Cat Salary Fury

From Hackney Gazette, March 15 2007

Town Hall Chief’s Pay is Revealed

“Fat Cat” salaries pocketed by Hackney Town Hall chiefs have been revealed following an investigation by a campaign group.
The six-figure sums taken home by senior bureaucrats were released under the Freedom of Information Act by the Taxpayer’s Alliance.

It shows the top 10 highest earners in the town hall raked in more than £1 million between them in the last financial year.

The highest-earning Hackney Council officer is the chief executive, Penny Thompson, who was paid £164,839, just £22,000 less than the Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Next up is director of housing Steven Tucker, who earned £126,000, followed by Gillian Steward, the director of customer and corporate services, who took home £123,000.

Timothy Shields, the director of finance, and Kim Wright, the director of community services, both earned £120,000.

The report was released by pressure group, the Taxpayer’s Alliance, who said the figures were “insulting”.

Chairman Andrew Allum said: “It’s a complete insult to tax-payers’ dignity that so much of their money goes down the drain on top salaries for council staff.”

Jane Holgate, secretary of Hackney Trades Union Council, also condemned the salaries.

She said: “I think it is disgraceful, particularly given the fact that many of the council’s employees are on low salaries and living in a London borough where the cost of living is very high.

“We are operating in a tight labour market and these jobs would be filled despite the inflated salaries.”

The campaign group, London Council’s, which represents the capital’s local authorities, said senior officers were worth the money.

London Council’s chairman, Cllr Merrick Cockell, said: “Being a borough chief executive is not a small job. Public demand for excellent service and value for money means that we need to recruit the best possible candidates for these demanding roles.

“This can only be achieved, especially in the capital with its high costs of living, by offering competitive salaries.

“That said, they work incredibly hard for their money – and are paid far less than they would be in an equivalent job in the private sector.

“These people are individuals who want to make a difference to their community and they must be rewarded for that.”

A Hackney Council spokeswoman said: “Hackney’s pay for its chief officers is in line with that offered by comparable authorities in London and across the country.

“Local government in London is a competitve recruitment field and chief officer salaries reflect what we need to pay to attract the best people to improve services for the people of Hackney.”